Beethoven–Composer Study

Who doesn’t love Beethoven? We all love Beethoven and his music. After our holidays were over, I told my children that I would like for us to start learning about one composer and they could choose. Of course, they couldn’t quite agree, so we decided that they could take turns choosing. JD Boy chose our first composer and he chose none other than Beethoven. So for several weeks we have listened to Beethoven lots and lots–while we do our chores, while we drive and while we make crafts. We do listen to other music too! We are still in love with the hymn CD’s that accompanied the books we read before and during the holidays–Hymns for a Kid’s Heart (See my post on those.) and we just have other albums we enjoy listening too. But we have immersed ourselves in Beethoven’s music and it’s oh, so inspiring.

I’m sure you can guess which piece is the kids’ favorite: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Probably along with most other kids their ages. The only thing is my kids’ now call it “Beethoven’s Wig” because we listened to a version of it with silly lyrics from a CD called “Beethoven’s Wig” It has put lyrics to several classical pieces, which perhaps wrecks the music, I don’t know. One of the pieces is called “Beep, Beep, Beep” and is to the tune of Moonlight Sonata. My brother-in-law says that he’ll never be able to play that song on the piano again without having “Beep, beep, beep” going in his mind. I have to feel sorry for him. I’ll have to admit that I really laughed when I heard it too.

We also enjoyed some good stories about Beethoven. We read the book: Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Opal Wheeler. This book is a very good book. I highly recommend it. We liked it so much that I purchased the whole series, so we have some really great books to read about composers for awhile to come. We also purchased the accompanying CD about Beethoven which has several Beethoven piano pieces. We didn’t try the accompanying teacher’s guide though.

Our other favorite source was The Story of Beethoven In Words and Music CD. We’ve had these CD’s for awhile, because my husband listened to them when he was a homeschooler and loved them so bought them perhaps even before we had children for his own listening enjoyment. They really are excellent. They’re very inexpensive too. On Amazon this CD is only $3.00.

And the third story that especially my son enjoyed a lot was Beethoven Lives Upstairs. We got it on CD. So he listened to it over and over. It is the story of Beethoven in a boy’s words. I haven’t made my verdict on this one. It is really interesting and engaging, but I personally am very careful to not mix fiction into history studies so that my kids don’t mix up the facts for the fiction and I can’t quite tell if this is historically accurate or not. Everything I’ve checked on has checked out, but I’m not done checking.

Most importantly we enjoyed lots of music by Beethoven. My husband is a collector of classical music, especially violin. Perhaps that’s because he’s a violinist or perhaps it’s because he was homeschooled, whichever the reason, we had access to hours of Beethoven. And we really appreciated Beethoven’s music.

We decided to try our hand at notebooking rather than lapbooking on this project. Here are pictures of our pages that have been added to our notebooks. This is the first thing that we have “notebooked” so we’re new to this concept, but figure that since we successfully figured out how to lapbook, that we can figure this out too.

Zippy's Beethoven pages
Zippy’s Notebook Pages on Beethoven

JDBoy's Beethoven Pages
JD Boy’s Notebook Pages on Beethoven


I have been trying to follow the Moore Formula in our homeschooling adventure. (See my post about the Moore Formula.) One of the things that the Moore Formula includes is service for others. I always feel like this area needs work in our family, but I’m happy to report that my children, especially my daughter, have been busy with service the last couple of weeks and will be busy for a couple more. I am leading out in a five-week-long four-nights-a-week Bible class for children. My daughter has been preparing the crafts. A friend has been doing most of the cutting, but my daughter has been individually packaging everybody’s crafts. That might not sound huge, but we prepare twenty crafts and have twenty nights, so she’ll have done four hundred crafts by the time we’re finished.

Zippy learning to use a heat sealer

Here she is sealing off one of the crafts with the heat sealer.

Zippy showing off one of the four hundred crafts that she has to package

She proudly shows off one of the two hundred packages that she’s already finished!

My Thoughts on Lapbooks

I have had several different questions about the different lapbooks that we’ve made. I decided that I would just write a post on my developing philosophy of lapbooking as well as share my favorite resources.

Open Thanksgiving Lapbook A little history: I do not consider us to be “pro-lapbookers”. It’s something that we have learned to enjoy a lot though. We learned how to lapbook last summer at the Washington Homeschool Organization Convention. Tina from Jetihoja Academy was the instructor of that class. So I give a big “Thank-you” to her for introducing us to this idea. As soon as we learned about it, I knew that this was a great project for my daughter who is a very kinesthetic learner and also very artisitic. Immediately after the convention we tried out our first lapbook. We were in the process of learning about birds, so figured that would be a great place to start. We purchased our first lapbook from In the Hands of A Child and we had a lot of fun, but I immediately discovered something challenging for us. The challenge is that my daughter does not like to write a lot and the lapbook involved quite a bit of writing, so this is how I started developing my philosophy about lapbooking. I will say that the In the Hands of a Child lapbooks are very well done, even though they didn’t work for my daughter.

JDBoy and Lapbook My goals: My number one goal with lapbooks is to help my children love learning. I think that lapbooks appeal especially to the more kinesthetic learners as it is a hands-on project. My secondary goal is to teach my children to start developing the skills to produce reports even before they can write well. I also do oral narration with my children on what we study, so that they are practicing putting things into words.

So based on the personalities of my children and based on my goals, I have found that the best approach for us on our lapbooks is to make custom lapbooks. This also gives my children a chance to be involved in planning out what is going in the lapbook, although I’m the one that plans what we are going to study, so I really am the one doing most of the planning.

Exercise 2 My children love to design their own mini books. These are always the ones that they are the most proud of in their lapbooks too. One of the nice things when they design their own, is that they really are trying to figure out how to convey what they learned even though it may or may not contain words. I do use printables that I find here and there and I will list my favorite sources at the bottom. I mix printables with ones they design on their own. For instance, in our last lapbook, they pretty much designed all the ones that had to do with health habits and we used printables for most of the anatomy mini books.

Cover The best part of lapbooks is finishing them! My children are always so proud to show their grandparents and friends their lapbooks and tell them all about what they have learned. I consider this to be an important part of the project too. Their repeating over and over with pride what they have learned helps to plant the lessons in their memory.

Now when it comes to how to make lapbooks, others have already written excellent blog posts and lenses and all kinds of things on how to lapbook, so here is my list.

First, let me say that the second person that helped me so much with lapbooking was somebody I’ve never met. Her name is Jimmie and she homeschools in China, and tons of these resources are by her. So kudos to Jimmie too! (And check out her blog. It’s my favorite!)

My favorite lapbook links:

Is lapbooking controling your curriculum? by Jimmie
Lapbooks–a form of narration by Jimmie
How (and Why) To Begin Lapbooking by Jamin

How to:
Lapbooking–basics, how-to’s by Jimmie (If you don’t look at any other links, please look at this one.)
Lapbook Lessons by lots of people (This site requires free membership, has lots of free lapbooks too)

Free printables:
Homeschool Share (tons of free lapbooks, requires free membership)
Love-to-Lapbook Group (this is a yahoo group that you must join, but it has the best collection of links for lapbooks that I’ve seen.)
Lapbooks by Carissa (Check out the tot books for fun lapbooks for toddlers.)

Simply Lapbooks (lots of great ones for K-1st) (This site has been removed.)
Lapbooking Group on Flickr!
Pictures of OUR lapbooks

To Purchase:
Dover (We like to turn pictures from their coloring books into mini books for our lapbooks. They have really great history based coloring books.)
Homeschool in the Woods (The Time Traveler Series and the Activity Paks are the best pre-made lapbooks that I have seen, without a question. The Timeline figures from this siteĀ  are really great for lapbooks too.)
Books by Donald Silver at Amazon (These are sadly going out of print, but I think that they are really great.)
Books by Donald Silver on Currclick
Pockets by Evan-Moor on Currclick (These were not designed for lapbooks, but for the most part, they work great. Or you can make the pockets as described. It’s a similar idea to lapbooks.)
Pockets by Evan-Moor on Amazon

This is not an exhaustive list of links. Most of these links contain more links for you to follow and will give you many ideas. These are just my favorites.

Happy Lapbooking!

Kids Play Their History Lessons

Today JD Boy wouldn’t stop: "Mommy, mommy, please video us." He is one of if not the most persistent child I’ve ever met. I was so busy and didn’t really have time, but if you’ve read the parable about the unjust judge in the Bible then you already know that persistence pays off. Finally, I said, "Okay, where do I have to go to video you?" Well it was only a few feet away and it didn’t require putting on my coat and shoes, so I agreed. I got my camera, headed to the bottom of the stairs and then the kids began their presentation. Here it is.

Now, we didn’t study Christopher Columbus this week or month, we studied it in September. Obviously though JD Boy took a liking to the story and he persuaded his siblings to participate in his imaginary sailing across the Atlantic. He even invited Captain Jones on the journey. Pretty amazing huh? It seems the water must have been a bit rough and required bicycle helmets. Wouldn’t Columbus have loved those? And you’ll notice, that, unfortunately, the captain of the Pinta freaked out and wasn’t able to make the voyage.

Snow or Shine?

Our weather can’t make up it’s mind. What’s up with this anyway? I caught a couple of fun pictures of my kids in the different types of weather that we’ve had within the last week.

Zippy doing math in Springtime March

Zippy thought when it was nice, that outside would be the best place to do her math. I agree, but where did that nice weather go? It’s been snowing and melting and snowing and melting.

Zippy & G'tums sledding in March

JDBoy sledding in March

Today they thought that maybe it would be better not to do math but to go sledding all day. I had to disagree, math just has to get done sometimes, but they managed to get their math finished pretty fast because that snow was melting.

Human Body Unit & Lapbook

We have been studying about the human body for several weeks. Our core book or spine has been the book The House We Live In. It is an older book (written in early 1900’s) that includes information not only about the body but how to keep it healthy. I really appreciated this approach. We have an amazing machine called our body and keeping it in good running condition is so very important.

Here is a quote from the back of that book that I thought was good: “Parents should seek to awaken in their children an interest in the study of physiology. From the first dawn of reason the human mind should become intelligent in regard to the physical structure. We may behold and admire the work of God in the natural world, but the human habitation is the most wonderful. It is therefore of the highest importance that among the studies selected for children, physiology occupy an important place. All children should study it. And then parents should see to it that ptractical hygiene is added.”

Besides this book we used: First Encyclopedia of the Human Body by Usborne so that we could see pictures as we learned about the body. We did a few experiments from: Usborne Book of Science Activities Vol. 3. We also had a few older books that had been given to us that we enjoyed: You and Your Body by Usborne and Time Life Human Body.

Human Body and Health Books

We also watched several Moody Science Classics in conjunction with our studies including: Red River of Life and Windows of the Soul as well as the The Wonders of God’s Creation: Human Life. We also found some really great online videos and animations. Please see my posts about the heart and circulatory system and the respiratory system for those references. I found most of these links by looking up the subject matter on Wikipedia and scrolling to the bottom of the page and opening up all of the external links. One of the ones we really enjoyed on the brain was by the University of Washington, called Brain Works.

Now for the lapbooks. These lapbooks were a big project, we worked on them for several weeks along side of our learning. Most of our ready-made printables came from Easy Make & Learn: Human Body. It has really fun printables in it, such as a muscle that flexes. (See photo below.)

Muscle & Five Senses Extension

Here are pictures of the kids with their lapbooks.

Zippy with Human Body Lapbook

Zippy with Human Body Lapbook 2

JDBoy and Lapbook

JDboy and Lapbook

A couple close-ups of their covers

Human Body Lapbook Cover Human Body Lapbook Cover

We got the pictures on their covers from searching on Life photo archive hosted by Google. And we cut the letters out with our Wishblade that we just got. That was fun. It’s also the only successful thing I’ve done with it so far.

As you can tell, these lapbooks are very full. We spent several weeks on this project. I invite you too look at all of the pictures on flickr! to see the different books for each subject that we covered. (Scroll down for links to the flickr! sets.)

Here’s a slide show of JD Boy’s Human Body Lapbook:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Click here to see JD Boy’s Human Body Lapbook on Flickr!

Here’s a slide show of Zippy’s Human Body lapbook.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Click here to Zippy’s Human Body Lapbook on Flickr!